Pike River stabilisation date set

By Hayden Donnell

The plan to stabilise the Pike River mine, which involves sealing the portal into the explosion-hit mine, has been pushed back twice by dangerous gas levels. File photo / NZ Herald
The plan to stabilise the Pike River mine, which involves sealing the portal into the explosion-hit mine, has been pushed back twice by dangerous gas levels. File photo / NZ Herald

Long awaited work to stabilise the Pike River coal mine is set to begin on June 27, receivers have announced.

But families of the Pike River dead are angry they have not been told about the new start date for the work seen as as the first step towards recovering the bodies of their loved ones.

The stabilisation plan, which involves sealing the portal into the explosion-hit mine, has been pushed back twice by dangerous gas levels.

PricewaterhouseCoopers receiver John Fisk today said carbon monoxide readings in the mine had been decreasing recently.

Mines rescue had now approved a new plan to begin sealing the mine on June 27, with a planned completion date in late July, he said.

"No-one can go into the mine until it is stable. That's the first step."

Bernie Monk, the spokesman for the families of the 29 Pike River dead, today said he had not been told of the new start date for the sealing work.

The lack of communication was "typical" of the families' interaction with receivers, he said.

He was concentrating on a family-led effort to put together a credible plan for recovering the bodies of their loved ones.

"We've got no word. They've gone to the media before they've gone to us.

"I've gone past the receivers now. I'm concentrating on getting our guys out."

Mr Fisk said receivers were planning to meet with families to discuss the sealing plan tonight.

He said the lines of communication with families were open - though he had never received a call from Mr Monk to discuss plans for the mine.

"They're aware we're wanting to do this and wanting to do it as quickly as possible.

"As far as we're concerned the lines of communication are open... if there's concerns about that then I'm more than open to address them."

Families would need to get receivers' approval for any plan they put together to reenter the mine, Mr Fisk said.

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